If you’re feeling a little bit of a school-based slump right now, you’re not alone. March is a tough time, school-wise, for a lot of people–it’s far enough away from the start of the school for you to feel as though you’ve done your time and should be done by now, but too far away from summer vacation to give you one, last adrenaline spike to get you to the finish line. Even if your spring break happens to fall in March, it’s probably only a week, and you have to spend the whole time worrying about the research paper you have due next week, or the colleges you should be visiting, or the SAT practice test you need to be taking.
It’s enough, in my opinion, to make even the most sound-minded of individuals want to give up on this whole school thing altogether and move to one of those vegan goat sanctuaries that are so popular on Instagram these days. There is good news, however, and the good news is that you can actually reclaim your motivation to get you through the rest of the year–you just need to have the right mindset. So, check out these easy(ish) ways to stay motivated in school, even if the literal last thing you want to do right now is focus on school:
1. Give yourself a break:
If you’re totally burned out, you’re not going to be able to get your work done–and, even if you do, it’s probably not going to be the product that you want. So, if you’ve been working really, super hard, and you don’t see an end in sight, and your eyes glaze over every time you sit in front of your computer, take a break. Otherwise, you’ll keep feeling unfocused, and you’ll probably also make a lot of mistakes with your work.
2. But not too much of a break:
Like, watch one episode of Parks And Recreation. Not seven in a row. If you have a longer break, like winter or spring break, give yourself one full day to veg out–like, seriously, put your books away and do not look at them for a full day–and then get back to work. A break is necessary, but if you make yours too long, you’ll lose momentum.
3. Get used to the feeling of doing something you don’t really want to do:
This is a little bit misleading, I guess, since the title of this is easy ways to stay motivated in school. But success in school isn’t always easy! You’re going to have to sit down and do work when you’d really rather stare aimlessly at your phone screen. But the more you get used to doing things you don’t want to do, the easier it’ll become–self control is like a muscle, so every time you practice, you’ll get stronger.
4. Make hard stuff easier by improving your environment:
Clean off your desk. Get a pink Himalayan sea salt lamp. Do some aromatherapy. If your study area is a happy place, you’ll feel significantly happier about studying.
5. Also, put your phone away:
Okay, maybe take a picture of your studying area if it’s particularly gorgeous. But then, you have to put it in a separate room and shut the door. It’s too distracting otherwise. If you want to motivate yourself for a, um, surprise when you get back, send a few risky texts or post a selfie on Instagram (or maybe the perfectly vibey picture you just took of your study corner?)–this way, you know you’ll have something waiting for you on your phone when you return to it.
6. Think about how good it feels when you succeed at something:
Think about your last academic achievement and how good it made you feel. Focus on this emotion, and how much you’d like to experience it again, when you’re doing schoolwork.
7. Try to take an intrinsic approach to learning:
This is sort of hard, because so much of the way school is set up isn’t really conducive to learning for pleasure–unless you have some truly excellent teachers, you probably feel as though it’s constructed for you to work as hard as you can so you can check the right boxes and do well on some tests so you can get into the right college. There’s not a lot of room for internal joy-giving learning there. But, if you can, try to find something that you genuinely like about each subject–your teachers will notice if you’re excited about something, and, in most cases, this can only positively impact your grade.
8. Get to know your teachers:
If you can, try to actually get to know your teachers–ask for help after school or go to the tutoring session they have during your free period. This can help humanize them to you (and you to them) so you’ll actually feel at least a little more excited about showing up to their class and doing their homework.
9. Get some self control:
Like, literally. Self control is an app that blocks any site that distracts you for a certain amount of time. And, sure, you can probably find other ways to distract yourself if you really have to, but if you can’t go on Facebook for two hours, that’ll probably be more helpful for finishing that term paper than not.
10. Don’t study for more than five or six hours a day:
If you’re trying to fit an entire semester’s worth of studying into one day, don’t–you’ll feel twitchy and unfocused after that long, and you’ll almost certainly start making mistakes that reflect that.
11. Set small goals for yourself:
Very few things feel better than crossing something off your to-do list, no matter how small it is–set small-ish academic goals for yourself every week that build up to a larger goal. This helps activate your intrinsic reward system and helps make big projects feel less intimidating.
12. Write down everything you have to do:
You don’t have to be, like, a bullet journaler, but writing your assignments down in some sort of planner will help you remember them, and, because of this, actually do them.
13. Think of your biggest, loftiest goal and try to work towards that:
What would you like to do one day? You don’t really have to know, of course, and you don’t have to start working towards it now (though it’s never actually too soon to start). Having some idea of what you’d like to do and be when you grow up, and thinking about what you need to do to get there can be a huge motivation.
14. Set a routine for yourself:
Routines can feel draining sometimes, but they do work–most conventionally successful people have some sort of routine going on. The key is finding one that works for you–try to wake up around the same time every day, eat around the same times, and study around the same times. This will help you feel more grounded overall and make studying feel more like a habit than something you’re being forced to do.
15. Remember that you =/= your academic success:
One of the main causes of academic burnout is the conflation of self worth and academic performance. I mean, yeah, doing well in school is cool, and it’ll make your parents happy. But doesn’t really have any kind of bearing on what kind of person you are, and if you constantly view academics as a reflection of your character, your edges will start to fray. Besides, some great people get horrible grades. Some horrible people get great grades. Your grades aren’t you.
Don’t treat this as a free pass to blow off all your schoolwork, obviously, but if you find that school is seriously impacting your mental health, remember to put your mental health first–no grade or college acceptance you get will make up for compromising that.
Are you feeling the March slump? Do you have any tips for getting through it? Let us know in the comments!